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Emil Sher

Emil Sher

Photo: Rafael Goldchain
Prefer not to disclose
Eligible for National Public Readings Program:


Presentation Description

Young Man with Camera: Behind the Scenes


This young adult novel, featuring striking photographs by David Wyman, is about a young man who must make a moral choice about crime and punishment, a gifted photographer who stands at a crossroads and must choose between what he knows to be true and the price to be paid for staying silent. Young Man with Camera is about a boy, his camera and a singular perspective that gives him an uncommon strength.


During a 60-minute presentation, Emil takes us behind the scenes of writing this novel as he explores the creative process. Photographs from the book are projected as Emil discusses how the images were selected or orchestrated during photo shoots. Young readers are given a glimpse into the writing process and then given the opportunity to explore the book’s themes: in small groups they look at a photograph and are asked to make up a story about what might have happened beyond the frame, to consider a fundamental question about how we interpret the world: for all that we see, what goes unseen and unsaid? This leads to discussions about giving a second thought to first



Unpacking the Holocaust: A Playwright's Journey


What are the challenges, the choices, the considerations when history is to be both honoured and dramatized on stage? 


How far into the darkness of the Holocaust do you go, knowing young children will be watching the play? How do you condense layered lives into ninety minutes on stage? How can sets, costumes, masks, slides and silence give voice to an unspeakable tragedy? How much of an acclaimed book do you preserve, and what gets left behind?


These are some of the questions that are explored in Unpacking the Holocaust: A Playwright’s Journey. In a lively, engaging talk, playwright Emil Sher offers a glimpse of the process of taking a story and retelling it on stage. The first part of his talk is a brief account of the true story at the heart of Hana’s Suitcase, the beloved children’s book by Karen Levine that has touched lives the world over.


Students are given an overview of Fumiko Ishioka’s inspiring journey, and how this Japanese educator ultimately found George Brady, a Holocaust survivor who kept his sister’s story to himself for decades. The lion’s share of the presentation is devoted to how Emil transformed a book into a stage production. Projections that are seen during a performance of the play are shared in the classroom, so students are given a taste of the theatre-going experience.

Presentation Length:
60 minutes
Young adult fiction, picture books, stage plays
Grade 1 - 12
Audience Size:
Workshop Description:

Away We Go: Storytelling with Sticky Notes


In this hands-on workshop students are walked through the basics of storytelling by way

of Emil’s poems, board books and picture books. Each student is then given a few sticky

notes and a page from a pre-publication draft of Away, a 2017 picture book featuring illustrator Qin Leng’s black-and-white sketches. Students have the opportunity to add colour to Qin’s whimsical artwork…and to add their distinct voices to the mix by creating their own

messages shared between Skip and her mom. The bones of the original story are

preserved but take on a whole new life thanks to the students’ collective version of